Jimmy Tapp (1918-2004)
Member of CAB Hall of Fame
Tapp, Jimmy (1918-2004)
When CFCF Television first went on the air on January 20th 1961, it was fitting that the host of Carte Blanche, the very first program to be shown on the station, was Jimmy Tapp. Jimmy had already by that time become a household name in Montreal, through his work with CBC radio, and later in radio and television with CJAD and CFCF, and on television with the CBC.
Jimmy’s first broadcasting gig was during World War II, as a naval rating spinning discs and hosting closed circuit radio programs on a minesweeper, HMCS Wasaga. After the war ended, and while still in the navy, he worked at radio station CHNS Halifax On demobilization in 1946, he studied radio broadcasting at Northwestern University in Chicago, and trained at the local NBC Radio affiliate. On returning to Montreal, he became a staff announcer for CBC radio, and later, before moving over to the private sector, he worked as President of CBC’s Radio Time Sales unit. He later became Station Manager of radio station CJAD, and then General Sales Manager for CKGM radio.
While radio stations CFCF and CFQR in Montreal, and CHWO in Oakville (where he worked into his eighties as the mid-day man for ten years), benefited in subsequent years from his distinctive voice and smooth microphone manner, and Air Canada had him hosting big band programs on their in-flight sound systems, he was most widely known in Canada as a television performer. The Tapp Room, a late-night CBC split-network series which ran from 1956 to 1958 after two years as a local show, had Jimmy interviewing guest celebrities (including Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Gregory Peck and Joan Crawford) and introducing new musical talent. Carte Blanche, the magazine show for which he was the first host, and which led off CFCF Television’s opening night in 1961, ran for ten years.
In 1966-67, he hosted CBC’s highly successful Flashback program, and other television series with which he was associated were A Kin To Win, Matinee with Jimmy Tapp, and a Montreal variety show, Camera Call. His was the voice of the lead character in the animated cartoon series The Mighty Hercules, which was syndicated widely in Canada and the United States, and he appeared in several feature films, as well as lending his voice and his face to many radio and television commercials.
Jimmy’s continuing willingness to assist others through donating his time and his name to charitable activities benefited many different organizations, including B’nai Brith, the Black Community Association of Montreal, The Heart Association and the Canada-Korea Cultural Society (for which organization he traveled to Korea to deliver the children’s hearing aids which his efforts had helped to buy). He was the Honorary President of the Montreal West Jaycees, and an Honorary Member of the Kiwanis Club.
Sadly, Jimmy died on November 20th 2004, eight days before he was due to be inducted into the CAB Hall of Fame. At the 2004 CAB Convention in Ottawa, his distinctive contribution to Canadian broadcasting was honoured posthumously by his peers.
Written by Pip Wedge - November, 2004